WikiLeaks’ Asian field day
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WikiLeaks’ Asian field day

Gossip, conjecture, analysis, allegations of political chicanery, corruption – they’re all in the latest downloads, reports Asia Sentinel

In Indonesia, the national police are discovered to be using a hard-line Islamic group as its hidden “attack dog.” In Indonesia, octogenarian Singaporean founder Lee Kuan Yew calls Islam a “venomous religion”. In Malaysia, UMNO leaders are “willing to blacken Malaysia’s reputation to ensure the end to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s political challenge.”

The latest flock of US diplomatic cables made available by the WikiLeaks Web site is setting off firecrackers all over Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. A total of 251,000 cables were released by WikiLeaks from diplomatic missions across the world last week, this time with no names removed to hide the identities of the confidential sources used by US embassies. The cables can be found at www.wikileaks.org. Here is a small sample.

One of the most explosive quotes Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) official Yahya Asagaf, who said the National Police Chief, Sutanto, was providing funds to the thuggish Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI as it is known by its Indonesian acronym, which has specialized in harassing what they consider improperly dressed women, closing nightclubs and beating members of the Ahmadiyah offshoot of Islam.

“When we questioned Yahya’s allegation that Sutanto funded FPI, Yahya said Sutanto found it useful to have FPI available to him as an ‘attack dog.’ When pressed further on the usefulness of FPI playing this role, noting that the police should be sufficiently capable of intimidation, Yahya characterized FPI as a useful tool that could spare the security forces from criticism for human rights violations, and he said funding FPI was a “tradition” of the Police and BIN. The principal BIN figure who provided funds to FPI was BIN Deputy Chief Said Ali As’at, Yahya claimed.) Yahya said the FPI had obtained a majority of its funds from the security forces, and, after mid-February, FPI faced a budget crunch.”

In Malaysia, a 2008 cable about the rise of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition as a viable opposition stated that “it appears the ruling party finds this situation intolerable. UMNO leaders, united behind but also in a sense using Prime Minister (PM) Abdullah, have made it clear that they are willing to blacken Malaysia’s reputation to ensure the end to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s political challenge. The coming Parliamentary session in the latter half of August is the next likely setting for a showdown, and could precipitate another arrest of Anwar if he is deemed to be doing too well politically between now and then. Conversely, if the ruling party concludes it has him boxed in UMNO may be content to use short-term measures such as judicial restraining orders and the like to prevent him from addressing and attracting a national audience.”

Anwar was arrested shortly after that, in July 2008, on sodomy charges that are widely viewed as trumped up to thwart his political career.

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